Bear and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Vous voulez voir cette page en français ? Cliquez ici.

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading Bear on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Bear [Mass Market Paperback]

Marian Engel
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition --  
Hardcover --  
Paperback CDN $12.96  
Mass Market Paperback --  
Mass Market Paperback, Jan. 1 1976 --  
Join Amazon Student in Canada


Book Description

Jan. 1 1976 New Canadian library (Book 172)
After five years buried like a mole amid the decaying maps and manuscripts of an historical institute, Lou is given a welcome field assignment: to catalogue a nineteenth-century library, improbably located in an octagonal house on a remote island in northern Ontario. Eager to reconstruct the estate’s curious history, she is unprepared for her discovery that the island has one other inhabitant: a bear.

Lou’s imagination is soon overtaken by the estate’s historical occupants, whose fascination with bear lore becomes her own. Irresistibly, Lou is led along a path of emotional and sexual self-discovery, as she explores the limits of her own animal nature through her bizarre and healing relationship with the bear.

A daring and compelling novel, Marian Engel’s Bear won the Governor General’s Award for 1976.


From the Hardcover edition.

Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed


Product Details


Product Description

From Amazon

Bear, which won Marian Engel the Governor General's Award for fiction and remains her best-known novel, is a short, lyrical book with a simple, notorious plot. A solitary, reclusive woman works as an archivist for a Toronto-based Canadian history institute that receives a large and unusual bequest by a descendent of a notable military family: a remote house in northern Ontario, filled with an unknown quantity of books and manuscripts. Engel's heroine travels to the house, which is accessible only by water, and begins to catalogue the deceased colonel's collection. Along with the house, the protagonist encounters Homer Campbell, the capable, friendly manager of the local general store and gas station, and an aging black bear that was once a pet of the Institute's benefactor.

As Bear continues, its heroine's research among the house's antiquated library draws her into serious reflection on romantic literature, but most readers won't bother with this--it is the protagonist's sexual relations with her pet bear that are the most famous element of the novel. Engel is, happily, not particularly graphic in her treatment of this subject, but she does load it with a great deal of symbolism. Many readers will find that her novel tries too hard to be a parable of animalism, while others will simply dismiss this solipsistic love story (for that is what it is, after a fashion) as unbelievable. Nevertheless, anyone who is not adverse to this mode of didactic storytelling will find Bear to be an enjoyable--and unusual--read. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Marian Engel was born in Toronto, Ontario, in 1933. She grew up in the Ontario towns of Brantford, Galt, Hamilton, and Sarnia. She received her B.A. (1955) from McMaster University and her M.A. (1957) from McGill University, where she wrote her thesis, “The Canadian Novel, 1921-55,” under the supervision of Hugh MacLennan.

After living abroad and teaching in the United States and Europe, Engel returned to Canada in 1964 and settled in Toronto, which was to remain her home.

Her many novels and short stories explore the daily lives of her contemporaries, frequently reflecting upon the human condition from the perspective of women.

Engel was a founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and served as its first chairman in 1973-74.

Marian Engel died in Toronto in 1985.


From the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing tale finely told Jan. 18 1999
Format:Paperback
Marian Engel's short novel Bear is an odd book. Winner of the Governor General's Award (Canada) in 1976, it clearly has attained critical success. In broad outline, Engel tells the story of a bookish young woman, Lou, working as an archivist in dusty historical institute, who is given the field assignment to catalog a nineteenth century library located on a remote island in Ontario. The only other inhabitant of the island is the pet bear of prior the occupants, and a strongly sexual - though not consummated - relationship develops between them The subject matter of this book may be very disturbing to some - an afterward in the Canadian edition to this book notes that many have described the book as "pornographic". I do not agree with this censor's view, but agree that it is not a book for children or prudes.
The real "subject" of the book is Lou's growth from retiring recluse to more confident woman; although the medium of transformation is through sexual awakening, this is not the sole or even principal end result.
Finally, a word must be added about Engel's wonderful writing. Her characters, settings, and descriptions are lively, strongly visual, and at times amusing. Take, for example, her musings on historical Canadians: "The Canadian tradition was, she had found, on the whole, genteel. Any evidence that an ancestor had performed any acts other than working and praying was usually destroyed. Families handily became respectable in retrospect but it was, as [Lou] and the [Institute Director] often mourned, hell on history." More such fine writing awaits the reader of this short but non-complacent novel, which I recommend.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 4 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
loved the book
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad Aug. 8 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the references to places and people I recognize. I like to imagine we can have loving (not sexual) relationships with animals. I though Engel's descriptions were excellent......however
I do not like the vulgarity of her language and she, like so many of the 'ancestors' in the book found yet another way to abuse and exploit the bear.
Overall, I found it sad.
Often I am glad to pass on my books to friends and family. I am not sure what to do with this one.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing tale finely told Jan. 18 1999
By Rick Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Marian Engel's short novel Bear is an odd book. Winner of the Governor General's Award (Canada) in 1976, it clearly has attained critical success. In broad outline, Engel tells the story of a bookish young woman, Lou, working as an archivist in dusty historical institute, who is given the field assignment to catalog a nineteenth century library located on a remote island in Ontario. The only other inhabitant of the island is the pet bear of prior the occupants, and a strongly sexual - though not consummated - relationship develops between them The subject matter of this book may be very disturbing to some - an afterward in the Canadian edition to this book notes that many have described the book as "pornographic". I do not agree with this censor's view, but agree that it is not a book for children or prudes.
The real "subject" of the book is Lou's growth from retiring recluse to more confident woman; although the medium of transformation is through sexual awakening, this is not the sole or even principal end result.
Finally, a word must be added about Engel's wonderful writing. Her characters, settings, and descriptions are lively, strongly visual, and at times amusing. Take, for example, her musings on historical Canadians: "The Canadian tradition was, she had found, on the whole, genteel. Any evidence that an ancestor had performed any acts other than working and praying was usually destroyed. Families handily became respectable in retrospect but it was, as [Lou] and the [Institute Director] often mourned, hell on history." More such fine writing awaits the reader of this short but non-complacent novel, which I recommend.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, exquisite and very different May 22 2009
By KatPanama - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Strange and elegant book about a summer, a woman and a bear on an island -- also about books and knowledge. I could not (um) bear interruptions whilst reading this short novel and gobbled it up in one sitting. Definitely goes on my This Year's Best Reading list. Marian Engel was a brilliant Canadian writer who won the Governor General's Award with "Bear" in 1976 which itself is rather shocking given the content and tenor of the times.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than you think Dec 8 2006
By Abbie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Bear is more than just a story about a woman on an island, interacting with a bear. It is about a woman who finds her place in life, her life wants and goals, and her tracks to her life journey. This is about a woman who was headed in the wrong direction--leading a drab, boring life, a life that seemed to be controlled by the affair she was having. She takes a trip to a historical house on an island in Canada and finds that it was more than she had ever expected. Her life change and new attitude was fueled by a sexual relationship. It is more than just a sexual relationship--she finds out how to love herself and love others as well. Bear is an interesting tale filled with sadness, love, and truth. This story needed to be written and needs to be read.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bear Revisitied Oct. 28 2012
By Susan from NYC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read Bear years ago and when discussing obscure and wonderful books with a friend I wanted to re-read it and see if it stood the time test. Ha! Try to find a copy - NYPublic Library - one copy in the entire 5 borough system and cannot be borrowed (?!), B & N - sorry, not in stock, looks like out of print, Amazon - one click and you can have it in a few days. Yes! Hey - this book is still beautiful, edgy, moving, and worth a second and third read.
4.0 out of 5 stars Tawdry covers and titles like Taken by a T-Rex Aug. 15 2014
By M. J. Evans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Back in July I made my annual trek to Rhode Island for NECON, a small gathering of horror writers and artists. One of the discussions I got involved in was the trend toward Monster Porn that seems to be so popular on Amazon these days. Tawdry covers and titles like Taken by a T-Rex, Raped by a Raptor, and Moan for Bigfoot. No, I haven't read them, but someone asked me if I had ever read Bear by Marian Engel, and silly me had never even heard of it. I asked what it was about and was told it was about a woman who has sex with a bear. "A werebear," says I, thinking along the lines of paranormal romance, and he said, "No, a real bear." He went on to say that it had been a bestseller in Canada and even won some sort of award. Turns out the the award it won was the Governor General's Award, the highest honor a book can receive in Canada. Curiosity got the better of me; I had to check it out. I mean, how bad can it be, right? Bestiality? I've read worse.

The novel starts off innocently enough with the Institute Lou, our central character, is employed by inherits the Cary estate, which is situated on a remote Canadian island. Lou is sent to settle the estate and catalog the massive library contained within the house, as it was requested that the library not be separated from the property. Lou doesn't quite know what to expect upon her arrival at the house; the one thing she is not expecting, however, is a bear. A tame bear. It seems the previous own kept a bear on the property, penned up and chained the way you would a dog in an outdoor kennel.

At first she wants little to do with the animal, and the bear expects nothing from her except its food, but it seems the prior owner was fascinated by the species, as were her ancestors, as there are notes written on slips of paper in just about every book Lou picks up, all revealing some cultural or historical fact about bears. It might be subliminal, but before too long she takes an active interest in the bear, taking it for walks, swimming with it, and even allowing it into the house to curl up by the fireplace while she works. With no one else on the island save for an old Indian woman, who Lou has only encountered once or twice, Lou has no social outlet unless she wants to take a trip to the mainland, so she turns to the bear as a companion. The relationship between the two progresses quite rapidly, and eventually becomes intimate, and that's when Lou begins to lose herself. She becomes more of a wild woman, living only for the bear, and it seems like she is willing to give up her previous life to stay on the island and care for the bear. The inability to consummate their relationship by committing that final act frustrates Lou, and at first she blames the bear, but then she realizes the fault lies with her, and what she was attempting to do is wrong. She does make one last attempt to "seal the deal" so to speak, and ends up being gravely hurt in the process.

The book itself is not a bad book, and once you get past the "eww" factor of a woman performing intimate acts with a wild animal, you see what the book is really about. During the course of the narrative, we find that Lou tends to give of herself with no expectation of getting anything in return. This can be said if her work life and her romantic life. Her relationship with the bear is symbolic of her life, and you go through it wondering when she is going to wake up and realize that what she is doing is wrong. That point does come, and with it comes that realization that she deserves more out of life.

After I finished reading Bear, I closed the book and wondered, What was so great about that? It was okay, but hardly worthy of the award and praise it has gotten. But now that some time has passed and I've had a chance to look at it as a whole, I see how amazing the book truly is and how skillfully the author was able to encapsulate all aspects of this woman's life in that one relationship. I would highly recommend it.
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Look for similar items by category


Feedback